Sunday, August 30, 2015

Journalists' Killings and Issue of Gun Control

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

The fact that  gun violence  is a common thing in the United States  and it is taking a heavy toll on the lives of the American people is evident from the headlines of the national and local newspapers of the US. The issue of gun violence has once again come to the fore recently when Alison Parker, 24, a TV reporter and Adam Ward, 27, a cameraman were fatally shot down by a former TV reporter who eventually killed himself too.

In a scathing editorial headlined "Killings of Journalists Bring Gun Violence to Dark New Level", The New York Times on Aug 26, 2015 said: "It is an increasingly horrific fact of life and death in the United States that easily available guns offer troubled Americans the power to act out their grievances in public."

The New York Times editorial went on to say:"This trend dramatized in recent years by macabre shootings in schools, churches, movie theaters and workplaces, was taken to a dark new level on Wednesday in southwestern Virginia by a disturbed former reporter who chose not only to murder two journalists as they reported live for a television station that had fired him, but also to record and broadcast the theme on social media."

Gun violence should not be tolerated, no matter where it comes from, and in no way may be justified. Gun violence has claimed thousands of lives in the United States every year.

According to a report,  11,208 people were killed in gun violence and 21,175 suicides were committed in the US caused by fire arms. There were 310 million different kinds of guns in America, not including weapons owned by US military, in 2009 according to the data released by the Congressional Research Service.

No doubt, gun violence racking the United States is entirely the fault of easy access and availability of firearms. No logic justifies fatal attacks on journalists, no words excuse killings of innocent reporters. The Congress leaders of the United States must speak out against the gun violence.

Thousands of outrageous acts of homicides and assassinations have been committed in the US. There is no easy solution to the issue of gun violence in the US. But there is a lot that can be done to control guns and crimes in the US. First and foremost, sweeping gun control laws must be introduced in the US to contain the problem of the increasing gun violence.

But past precedents have shown that American political heavyweights especially the Republican stalwarts  have been reluctant to work for gun control. As the NYT editorial honestly pointed out:"There are too many guns, and too little national will to do anything about them".

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Certificates of Election Awarded to Nonresident Nepali Association-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter Officials

By Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

Vice President of NRN-NCC-USA Mr. Dilli Bhattarai and Immediate Past President of NRN-NCC-USA Mr. Khagendra GC jointly gave away certificates of election to the newly elected office bearers of NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Branch amid a program here held Saturday at Neku Singh Memorial Theater in Portland, Oregon. On the occasion, NRN-ICC executive member Mr A.C. Sherpa wrapped the traditional Nepali Khata on the recipients of certificates of election and also dabbed Tika on their forehead.

Certificates of Election were issued by the National Election Commission, Non-resident Nepalese National Coordination Council of USA.

Recipients of certificate of election were NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter  president Diwakar Maharjan, vice-president Daya Shakya, General Secretary Sunil Rajkarnikar and Treasurer Jitendra Bajracharya.

Likewise, on the occasion, Dr. Rabin Man Shakya, Dr. Manoj Kansakar, Sita Kumari Rai, Srijana Sthapit, Ramesh Bhandari, Pradeep Bajracharya and Surya Thapa Chhetri also received certificates of election for positions of different directors.

Speaking on the occasion, NRN-NCC-USA vice president Dilli Bhattarai said that with the help of the fellow Nepalese community members across the US, the NRN-NCC-USA would be able to navigate this august forum in striving to contribute to the overall development of Nepal.

Mr. Bhattarai also called on fellow Oregonian NRNs to mobilize resources and expertise for rebuilding the earthquake-hit-Nepal.

He urged the NRNs of Oregon and activists of Nepa Chhen to explore avenues for promoting rich arts and culture of Nepal.

Immediate Past President of NRN-NCC-USA Mr. Khagendra GC said that stereotypical opinion about NRNs among the people is changing, especially after the active cooperation and providing of relief materials by NRNs to the quake-hit people.

Mr. GC also threw light on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the Nepalese staying in the US.

It is to be noted that after the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on June 24, 2015 the designation of Nepal for TPS and that eligible Nepalese residing in the US can apply for taking the benefit. On the occasion, Mr. GC also answered the questions asked by participants at the program.

Speaking on the occasion, NRN-ICC executive member A.C. Sherpa said that time has come for the NRNs to come forward with some  more concrete actions to help rebuild the quake-hit nation.

The program, which was followed by a live cultural show and dinner, was conducted by chapter vice president Daya Shakya.

It was disclosed at the program that with more than 10,000 individual members, NRN-NCC-USA is the most representative NRN-NCC body in the world.

Meanwhile, a picnic was organized by Nepa Chhen at Blue Lake Park on Saturday afternoon. The picnic, which was attended by Nepalese living in Portland, Salem, Eugene and other cities of Oregon, was also addressed by NRN-NCC-USA vice president Mr. Dilli Bhattarai, Immediate Past President Mr. Khagendra GC and NRN-ICC member A.C. Sherpa.

On the occasion, Nepa Chhen president Rajesh Maharjan wrapped Khata on the NRN heavyweights.

Meanwhile, an interaction program was organized on Sunday morning by NRN-Oregon chapter. The interaction was attended by NRN-NCC-USA's vice president Dilli Bhattarai,  NRN-NCC-USA's Immediate Past President Khagendra GC, Dr. Rekha Hamal, IOFTC official Karen Blackledge, president of Nepalese Association of Oregon (NAO) Ganga Sharma, chapter president Diwakar Maharjan, chapter general secretary Sunil Rajkarnikar and other chapter members.

The interaction focused attention on the cooperation and coordination among the organizations like NRN-NCC-USA, its Oregon chapter, IOFTC, NAO and Nepa Chhen.

*Also please read:
NRNA and Issue of Dual Citizenship   Jan 25, 2015
NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter and Local Diaspora   Aug 3, 2015
NRNA-USA Oregon Chapter's First General Meeting Kicks Off   June 21, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

In Nepal, FM Radio Stations Still Rule the Airwaves

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

Given the fact that Radio Colombo started regular broadcasting in 1925, All India Radio launched its broadcasting in 1930 and given the fact that even in conservative Afghanistan, Radio Kabul initiated broadcasting in 1925, radio broadcasting's late arrival in Nepal was somehow intriguing. Except for some other irregular broadcasting, Radio Nepal started its broadcasting service only in 1951. However, Nepal's late jumping on the radio broadcasting bandwagon can be attributed to the politics of isolationism of the Rana autocracy.

Radio Nepal's initial transmission lasted for 4 hours and 30 minutes, but today it is the powerhouse of radio broadcasting in Nepal. Radio Nepal over the last 65 years has mirrored the country's social and political turbulence. During the years of Panchayat regime (1960-1990), state controlled broadcasting behemoth deliberately spread messages of Panchayat regime's tenets, such as, stability, partylessness, class coordination, decentralization and supremacy of monarchy.

During the Panchayat regime,  Radio Nepal was effectively used as a powerful medium of state propaganda and publicity, although some of the radio programs gave the ordinary Nepalese radio listeners  a chance to make their voices heard.

Radio Nepal is the state owned radio broadcasting behemoth with maximum geographic and demographic reach. Radio Nepal is the only broadcasting juggernaut in Nepal which airs its transmission in short wave, medium wave and frequency modulation (FM) as well. The state controlled radio broadcasting monopoly ended only in 1997 with the launching of Radio Sagarmatha FM, the first independent community radio broadcasting station in South Asia.

By the time, my article "FM Rules the Airwaves" was published in The Rising Nepal on May 25, 1999, about a dozen FM radio stations were operating in Nepal, most of them in the Kathmandu valley.

FM radio stations have been mushrooming in Nepal since early 2000s. According to the data issued by the Ministry of Information and Communication of Nepal recently, the number of FM radio stations has reached 638 in Nepal. Among them, 547 FM radio stations are operating across Nepal while remaining 91 FMs  are not resuming their services due to various factors. Out of 547 FMs, more than 100 FMs are operating from the Kathmandu valley alone.

In a country plagued by constant load shedding of 12-13 hours a day, there is just no need for so many FM stations. Additionally, Nepal's FM radio stations and TV channels have been hit hard by a weak market of advertising.

The study conducted by the Broadcasting Audience Survey (BAS 2006-2007) found that radio is available and accessible in 82 per cent of Nepalese household while 59 per cent of Nepalese household has television, newspaper 13 per cent, magazines 5 per cent and Internet 1 percent.

In what could be a turning point in today's TV and Internet-dominated world, the percentage of the Nepalese people who said "radio is the most preferred source of information and entertainment is 64 per cent followed by television - 35 percent, newspapers 0.8 percent and Internet 0.1 percent.

The BAS study also compared the popularity of different radio bands and noted  that FM radio is the most preferred (84.7 percent) frequency band among the radio bands followed by medium wave  (44.6 percent) and short wave (16.5 percent).

The BAS study reveals some startling statistics and shows the pattern of radio listenership stating that housewives and shop owners are the most radio listening group in Nepal (32 percent each) while students  (13 percent) are found to be the next most listening group in the country.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Non-resident Nepali Association-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter and Local Nepalese Diaspora

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

Although a group of eight Nepalese students including Dr Trailokya Nath Upreti, Krishna Raj Aryal, Bhuvan Lal Joshi and so on were the first Nepalese to embark on educational odyssey at the University of Oregon in Eugene in June, 1955, they all returned to Nepal in 1956 after doing their Master's Degree at the University. That was the time characterized by the Cold War between the USA and the USSR when both the superpowers tried to outdo each other in peddling  their influence in the Third World countries.

Anyway, the history of Nepalese immigrating to the United States is not very old, comparing to the people from other countries. According to Olivia Miller, "the first time that the Nepalese were classified as a separate group occurred in1975, when 56 Nepalese immigrated to the United States."

One of the first known Nepalese who settled in Oregon were late Helen Ward (Mali)  and her relatives. Mali family moved to Oregon from Nepal in 1979. The process of globalization and global migration have definitely a tremendous impact on the Nepalese people too. The number of Nepalese people who immigrated to the US started to increase after the US government launched the Diversity Visa lottery. Today there are more than 500 people of Nepalese origin in Oregon alone.

To meet the growing needs of the Nepalese diaspora in Oregon, various Nepalese community organizations have been established in the past. Prominent among them are the NAO and the Nepa Chhen. The Nepali Association of Oregon (NAO), for example, was launched in April 2001. NAO is the most representative body of the Nepalese diaspora in Oregon. Likewise, Nepa Chhen, a cultural center for Nepalese community in Oregon was set up in November 2012. It looks like the Nepa Chhen and the NAO have become the household names among the Nepalese community in Oregon.

Meanwhile, NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter was officially launched in June 2015 this year under the chairmanship of Mr Diwakar Maharjan. NRNA-Oregon Chapter aims to work as a broader platform to work for the betterment of Nepalese diaspora in Oregon. It is to be noted that NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter has helped the community members in acquiring the Machine Readable Passports (MRPs). Deputy chief of the mission at the Nepalese Embassy in the USA Mr Rishi Ram Ghimire and embassy staff Deepak Sharma were in Portland at the request of NRNA-Oregon Chapter to provide help to the Nepalese in Oregon in acquiring MRP passports. Work on helping community members to acquire MRPs is still going on and Oregon chapter's vice president Daya Shakya and general secretary Sunil Rajkarnikar are ready to provide any kind of help or information regarding MRPs.

NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter has invited Mr Khagendra GC, Mr Yagya Nepal and some other personalities to shed light on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the Nepalese staying in the US. It is to be noted that after the devastating earthquakes in Nepal,  the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on June 24, 2015 the designation of Nepal for Temporary Protected Status and that eligible Nepalese residing in the US can apply for taking the benefit. Mr GC and Mr Nepal are scheduled to speak about the TPS in detail at a picnic to be organized by Nepa Chhen and NRNA Oregon chapter at Blue Lake Park in Portland on August 22, 2015. Hopefully, the community members will be able to get more useful information about the TPS from Mr GC and Mr Nepal at the picnic.

Given the fact that NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter was established just a couple months ago, the Chapter is already able to win the hearts of the Nepalese Portlanders. Therefore, this kind of activities  carried  out by NRNA - Oregon Chapter for the benefit of the local diaspora are expected to be just another feather in the Chapter's cap. NRNA-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter is still in the nascent stage of its growth and it is hoped that the Chapter will be able to render necessary help to the members of the Nepalese diaspora in Oregon in the future too.

*Also please read:
NRNA and Issue of Dual Citizenship   Jan 25, 2015
Certificates of Election Awarded to NRN-NCC-USA Oregon Chapter Officials  Aug 23, 2015
NRNA-USA Oregon Chapter's First General Meeting Kicks Off   June 21, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Media's Role in Containing Animal Slaughtering at Temples

Rabin Man  Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

According to a news published in The New York Times dated July 29, 2015, "a temple in southern Nepal known for the mass slaughter of animals at a festival every five years has indefinitely banned animal sacrifices, India's Humane Society International said Tuesday."

Another news story in the British newspaper The Telegraph also dated July 29, 2015 says: "The bloody mass sacrifice of animals during a Nepalese temple festival has ended after a high-profile international campaign championed by Joanna Lumley, the British actress revered in the Himalayan nation."

The Gadhimai temple has now announced that it will end the 300-year-old practice - the biggest animal sacrifice in the world - after years of protests by campaigners, went on The Telegraph story.

The decision of the temple authorities has to be welcomed and appreciated wholeheartedly. Certainly, this news sends a pretty good message that animal slaughtering at the temples is barbaric, inhumane and regressive act which should be condemned all the time. As a matter of fact, Nepal has been drawing international headlines in the past for barbaric animal killings at the temples and other religious sites.

Killing the innocent animals in a barbaric style in front of the temples publicly (with children watching it)  to please the Gods is insane and ridiculous. Yes, there is no doubt that killing the animals right in front of the Hindu temples and statues of Hindu Gods is to involve the temples and Gods themselves with the responsibility of brutal killings of innocent animals. This evil practice prevalent in Nepal in thousands of temples raises the question: Will the Gods be really happy with the barbaric offerings of innocent animals.

It is to be noted that the practice of animal sacrifices during different other Hindu occasions and at thousands of other Hindu temples is still prevalent in Nepal, even after Nepal was proclaimed a secular state. Animal sacrifice is still a common practice during the festival of Bijaya Dasami.

Today, Nepal is still notorious in the world for animal slaughtering at the temples. Republican and democratic Nepal today faces a number of issues which are related to the abolition of many religious practices and rightly so. Animal slaughtering is a highly inhumane and barbaric practice which should be banned. It should be banned not only in Nepal, it should be banned in all the countries of the world. No nation in the civilized world should entertain it.

Mass media like the newspapers, radio and TV channels have tremendous role in educating the people against such evil practices. Supporters of the animal sacrifices, however, say that age-old traditions cannot be given up.

But it is true that animal slaughtering in the name of pleasing the Gods and in the name of preserving age-old practices is outrageous and unacceptable. The animal rights activists of Nepal have been outraged by the continuous animal slaughtering at other Hindu temples and during other Hindu religious occasions. The mass media should give adequate platform to the animal rights activists to disseminate their ideas and messages. The newspapers should publish more stories, articles and editorials that can raise awareness against killing of innocent animals at temples, while the radio and TV channels should air more programs to boost the confidence and morale of the animal rights activists.

There is no doubt that the newspapers, radio and TV networks are the strongest platforms in showing the people the horrifying impact of animal slaughtering at the temples. The mass media should be able to inculcate the message on the people that this is not good from humane perspective, this is not good from environmental perspective.

It is evident that in the perspective of contemporary Nepal, in its elaborate process of new civilization and secularism, the scope and role of the Nepalese mass media to speak out against the brutal animal slaughtering at temples is getting to be vital.

Bottomline: Animal slaughtering at Hindu temples in the name of religion should be totally stopped and banned. This is going to be an uphill battle of the animal rights activists against the Hindu conservatives. The saga continues as the battle rages between the animal rights activists and Hindu conservatives. Therefore, media activism is very important to raise the awareness against the barbaric animal slaughtering at temples and religious sites.